Tim Frankovich

Writer's Blog & Home of Warpsteel Press

Category: Writing Page 1 of 7

NaNoWinner2019

FINISHED! I just wrote 1495 words today. That brings the total for National Novel Writing Month 2019 to… 50,092.

What does this mean to you, the reader? It means I’m 50,092 words closer to finishing the first draft of Until All Bonds Are Broken. If you check the bar on the right, it’s showing I’m over 77% done with the expected length of the book.

There’s a very strong chance that I’ll finish before January 1. But the climax of the story is here. I have to step back for a couple of days and outline things more specifically. There are a lot of “moving parts” to get right here. So many characters. So many plot lines. All of it coming together in… well, I can’t say much more.

Most ominous line I wrote today: “They don’t hunt in packs, do they?”

(Don’t forget! The ebook of Until All Curses Are Broken is on sale for $.99 for just a few more days! Get it now!)

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Wordfest 2019

Last Friday, my wife and I drove down to Corpus Christi. On Saturday, we took part in the second annual Wordfest, a book festival and symposium held at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. We had a great experience.

They had a contest for best decorated table, so we went all out, as you can see from the photo. The fiber-optic lights represent Seri’s color beams of magic. There’s Victor’s flail. And a friend loaned me the big metal dragon. No, there aren’t any dragons in this book, so he’s holding a sign that explains that. The result? We won second place!

Such a diverse group of people. For the day, my table sat in between a local Christian radio DJ (who also wrote a book), and a college professor promoting her book on social justice activism. (She sold more than I did, even though she was charging $35!)

I did sell a few books, but I also got to share my experiences and advice with several young writers who are hoping to publish their own stories. We talked about independent versus traditional publishing methods, and the difficulties involved in each. 

If you are one of the people I talked with and happen to be reading this, here are the links to some of what we discussed: IngramSpark and Kindle Direct Publishing. One solid source of a wealth of information is the Alliance of Independent Authors. Their website will keep you busy for hours!

Most amusing conversation I had: the one with the college girl who said, “I’m always curious to talk with people who write for money.” 

Manning an author table is great fun, and I hope I can find a few more opportunities sometime soon. 

Unfortunately, this event, with the travel and everything else involved, put me behind on #NaNoWriMo. But not by much! I’ll write more each of the next few days to catch back up. I have just over 10,000 words to go. The end is in sight!

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Brief Update

Since I’m writing 1600+ words per day during NaNoWriMo, it’s hard to find time to update the blog. So here’s a quick note to let you know that the writing is coming along great! As always, you can track my progress on the bar to the right.

So far this month, I’ve written over 28,000 words. That’s a big chunk of the book. I’m right on schedule to finish 50,000.

I’m about to hit a part of the book that is still a little vague in my mind. I know what happens, generally, but there are a lot of details to work out. I may have to take a day off from writing just to outline.

If you haven’t joined my mailing list, now is the time. I’ll be leaking a few excerpts from what I’ve written only to mailing list subscribers in the next few weeks, starting tomorrow.

Until the next update…

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What’s Love Got to do with it?

Update! After the first six days of NaNoWriMo, also known as November, I’ve written 10,175 words. That’s right on track for the 50,000 word goal. One fifth of the way there!

That brings Until All Bonds Are Broken to over 60,000 words right now, or around 47% of my target.

Interesting notes about what I’ve been writing the last couple of days: Volraag is getting a lot more scenes than I expected. Also, yesterday involved a bit of romance. (“Finally!” says certain readers.) I won’t say who the scene involved, but some of you might be surprised.

A few days ago, I finally wrote a scene that’s been in my head since the first chapter of book one. This one brought me to tears, so I hope it has a similar effect on you. It’s kind of the turning point of the entire novel.

Intrigued? Stay tuned.

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NaNoWriMo is Coming

For those unsure, or if you’ve forgotten, “NaNoWriMo” is National Novel Writing Month. Started way back in 1999, NaNoWriMo is a challenge, a community event, and a source of motivation for thousands of writers. In short, writers take the month of November to write an entire novel. More specifically, we try to write 50,000 words.

In a sense, this is accountability. You’re letting people know how much you’re writing on a daily basis. And it works! I’ve done it twice now. The first time, I wrote most of an earlier novel (that I’ll work on revising and re-writing next year some time). The second time, I made 50k words of progress on the novel you’re all enjoying now, Until All Curses Are Lifted.

This time? Well, if you’re following along, you know I’m working on the sequel, Until All Bonds Are Broken. I’m approaching 50,000 words on it already, and should be there by the end of this week. That means, if NaNoWriMo goes as planned, I should be at the 100,000 word mark by the end of November.

How does that compare? The first book is 139,568 words long. So if we assume that book two is comparable in length (and I assume that it is), then I’ll be over two-thirds of the way through by December 1st.

As always, you can continue to follow along with the tracker in the right column. Or if you want more specifics from me, follow me on Twitter where I post words counts and occasional vague hints. Or… better yet, join the Mailing List, where I’ll post some actual excerpts sometime soon…

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Book 2 Update

In my interaction with readers so far, I’ve been surprised. I’ve had almost zero questions about the plot or characters of Until All Curses Are Lifted. Instead, the number one question has been: when is the next book coming out?

I suppose that’s a good thing. And it’s both encouraging and daunting. I have expectations for this next book that go beyond my own. I have to proceed with the knowledge that some people will likely have strong opinions with the direction that I take. These characters are not just mine, now.

Book 2, Until All Bonds Are Broken, is proceeding daily, though not always as fast as I (or anyone else) would like. You can keep track of my progress with the bar on the right there. As I type this, it’s at 21.4%. That’s based on a rough idea of 130,000 words for the first draft. (The first book ended up being ~139,000.)

If you loved Marshal and Seri, you will see much more of them. At the same time, we’ll get to see more of the ongoing story from the point of view of some other characters. That includes a couple of characters who were mostly just following the main characters around in the first book. You’ll also get more from an antagonist point of view. Hmm.

I can’t give too much away yet, since I’m still early in the first draft and many things can change in the course of writing and editing. I do drop occasional hints about scenes I’m writing on my Twitter account, so follow me there if you enjoy that kind of thing.

It’s a journey, and I’m no longer alone on it. Welcome, dear readers. I promise you that I want to get the book done just as much as you do (maybe more). And I’ll work as hard as I can to get there. Thanks for joining me.

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Manning the Table

Wanna buy a book?

Yesterday, I had the privilege of setting up a “local author table” at the nearest Half Price Books location. This was my first experience with something like this and overall, it was a good one.

I set up the table just before noon. My wife came along and her smiling face helped attract customers. HPB originally had the table in a position where few people saw us until they had checked out and were leaving. I asked permission after half an hour and we were able to move the table to a more prominent location. After that, we started getting more attention.

Half the people who came by our table were friends who knew in advance – some of them old friends we hadn’t seen in quite a while! That added some extra pleasantness, and they accounted for around half the total sales.

Side note: every so often, one of the employees will page a customer, letting them know they have an offer on books they’re selling. One of them, who we heard throughout the afternoon, had a voice that sounded exactly like the late Sir Christopher Lee. Delightful.

Most common question: how long did it take you to write this?

Heard surprisingly often: my daughter/granddaughter/niece might like this. I’ll buy one for her.

Somewhat disappointingly, none of the people who came by the table were outright fantasy fans (or at least it seemed that way). Most just seemed to be avid readers of any kind and were attracted by the cover or the “local author” allure (autographs!) or whatever.

Good news: I did sell a number of copies, gave away a bunch of bookmarks, and was invited to return whenever I wanted.

Amusing theory that won’t die: a stranger came up to my wife and asked if she was the model for the book cover (Seri). She really isn’t. The cover was done by an artist in Indonesia who has never seen nor met anyone in our family, and submitted a cover design in competition with around a hundred other artists. Throughout the design process, no one noted any resemblance to my wife. Then came the cover reveal and several people suggested a likeness. And now it won’t die. Too funny.

I’m not entirely sure what I would do differently in another such event. It’s something to consider as I continue trying to find readers/buyers.

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The Forging of a Hero (Vindication review)

Vindication can be about the cubes or about the story.

If you move these wooden cubes over here, they become more important. Then you can use these cubes to trade for different cubes that give you more points, or else a card that gives you points. Sounds like a basic Euro-style game, right? And if that’s your thing, you can play the game of Vindication that way. But it’s so much more, especially for fans of storytelling.

The story behind Vindication is a hero’s journey. You start the game as a wretched guilt-ridden scumbag. Seriously, that’s what your game piece calls you. Under the premise, you’ve been tossed overboard by shipmates who grew disgusted with you. You wash up on the shore of a mysterious island full of magic and strange creatures (no smoke monster, though). A helpful stranger finds you and sets you a journey of… vindication.

Actually, it’s not so much vindication as redemption, I suppose, but there’s a lengthy debate over the name choice, if you really want to get into that.

You. Yes, you. You’re wretched. I thought you should know.

Anyway, in the course of the game, you can find ancient relics, fight monsters, recruit companions, and more, all in a quest to score the most points… er… become a real hero!

What makes this game shine is that it appeals to multiple game player styles. For those who greatly enjoy moving little wooden cubes around to trade for more little wooden cubes, etc., (i.e., a Eurogamer), this game is right up your alley. You can happily ignore all of the beautiful art and flavor text, and manipulate cubes to your heart’s content. But if, like me, you like stories and games that tell a story, you can immerse yourself in it all and explore a new tale every time you play. Perhaps you’ll recruit Beast Mistress Veroa to help you venture into the Gaping Maw and face Drogas, the Living Darkness. Maybe you’ll find the ancient relic Taker of Stars and use it to give yourself more time to search for more. Who knows?

While it’s not a pure storytelling game, Vindication opens up so many story possibilities for someone who likes to see them. As a writer, I see many hero’s journey tropes scattered throughout every one of this game’s plays. Even the companions you can recruit are divided up into mighty warriors, magic-wielders, and wise counselors (or just red, blue and yellow cards).

The lore of Vindication is deep and beautiful.

Vindication is not one of my favorite games. Yet. I’ve only played a handful of times. But it has potential to climb my rankings very fast, especially since there’s so much variety available with multiple expansions included with the base game. I haven’t even tried most of them yet!

Tabletop boardgames can be a great source of inspiration for writers, especially when they’re as rich as Vindication.

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Sometimes Fantasy Disappoints

I just finished reading a lengthy epic fantasy novel. As I closed it, I did not feel satisfaction, pleasure, or anticipation for another book. I felt… disappointed.

I’m not going to share the name of the book here. I don’t like to talk negative about books, if I can help it. (If you’re desperate to know, you can check my Goodreads profile.) And my likes are not the same as others’ likes.

Some of the disappointment came from the ambiguous ending. Did the good guys win? I wasn’t quite sure. And the primary reason for that was… who were the good guys?

The novel had three point-of-view characters. Based on the way it was written, I assumed they were the ones I should be rooting for, the protagonists, the “good guys.” And so it seemed, right up through the end. Did those three “win”? Kind of, I guess. They lived through it all, anyway.

But anther character definitely “won.” And he was portrayed as a good guy sometimes and a bad guy at other times. It wasn’t that he was conflicted, or was struggling with temptation or anything like that. It was deliberately ambiguous. I have no idea if what he accomplished in the end was a good thing for this fantasy world, or a bad thing, because I never understood his motivations or whether he understood the consequences of what he wanted to do.

Please note that I am not asking that all the characters in books be 100% good or 100% evil. I’m talking about character motivation and development.

In my novel, Until All Curses Are Lifted, one of the main antagonists is Volraag. It would have been easy to make him a straight-up villain. But I worked hard to give him a serious motivation that made sense from his point of view. That’s what I want to read. With this novel, I never got a clear understanding of the antagonist’s motivations (if he was an antagonist?).

This is one of the reasons why I love J.R.R. Tolkien so much. When I put down The Lord of the Rings for the 30+ time, I am satisfied. And it doesn’t matter which character I think about in the story, I can identify his/her motivations and status in the story. More than that, every character inspires me.

I could write a whole series on this (maybe I will, at some point), explaining how each character in The Lord of the Rings inspires and encourages me – even the “bad” guys!

I’m not opposed to making the reader wonder whether a character is good or bad. And I love to read stories where heroes fall, or villains are redeemed, because we’re all human and both those possibilities loom large in our stories. But I don’t want to read a story that ends with me wondering what I just read.

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Launch Day

This is it. In many ways, I’ve been dreaming of this day since 3rd grade.

As a child, I wrote little stories and stick figure comic strips for years. I moved on to longer stories, writing my own books. (They weren’t very good.) I went off to college, proclaiming that I was going to become a writer.

Then life happened. I realized that writers don’t make a lot of money. I needed other jobs. Those other jobs began to take up a lot of time. I fell in love. Got married. Had kids. Worked more jobs. Writing sort of… went away.

A few years ago, I somehow got motivated again. I began to write. And write. And write. I wrote a novel and submitted it to agents. It received dozens and dozens of rejections (almost all of them form). I moved on and wrote another novel. This one… this one was big. And it was good. I could tell.

I did everything I could think of to make it right. I hired an editor. I listened to beta readers. I worked through all the various processes of editing, proofing, re-writing, editing some more, proofing some more, and so on.

And now it’s here. I can pick up a physical copy of my first published novel. It’s real.

Today is my birthday. Why don’t you go buy yourself a present? I suggest a good book. Enjoy! And let me know what you think.

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